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Letters to the Editor, June 1999


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (June) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for June 1999.

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From: WILLIAM S BOTH
Date: 6/13/99
Subj:
Travel Agent's Anguish

I am not actually a Travel Agent, But I do work in the Travel Industry. I work for a major hotel operating company's main reservation center. While I was making a reservation for a guest to one of our hotels, I informed the guest I needed his credit card for a deposit. He started to give out a number that did not match any of the major cards, you know "4" for Visa "5" for Master Card etc. I asked the man, "What credit card type is this card?" He answered, "It's my department store's charge card." I explained that what I wanted was a MAJOR credit card. he did not have one, so I advised he call a travel agent or the hotel directly and try to arrange a reservation that way.

Now that's quite sad. You have to wonder how it was, though, that he has gone through life without ever realizing what a major credit card is. There are farmers in South Dakota who have never had a credit card - people who don't believe in debt. That I can understand. Your chap, however, has a very special kind of innocence.
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From: Unicorn Lover
Date: 6/11/99
Subj: Bob Becker

A friend of mine has sent me your web site with a funny story referring to the story about a game "Mate Match." I have enjoyed reading it tremendously. Since I wake up at 4 AM and leave the house at 5 AM I don't have much time for reading or doing anything I just check my e-mail and take my laughs with me to work every morning. But this morning it was a wonderful laugh. I just want to thank you for giving me the laugh of the day today. Oh, I haven't much time to read or investigate the web site much but my friend lives in Texas and I live in Washington. I don't know where you are but my compliments to your list of jokes and stories. I will be looking forward to reading them and probably sharing them with my coworkers and friends. Oops, looks like I need to get going if I am going to get to work on time. Have a Great day and keep up the good work.

Actually I maintain the site. Bob Becker is one of the people who sends me jokes. It's a site meant for intellectual rambling and just plain enjoying.

It never occurred to me that I should put my name on all of the pages. Apparently people find random pages without ever getting to the home page. By the way, my name is Richard Harter.

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From: Kenneth Porter
Date: 6/11/99
Subj:
Hydrogen Beer

At least part of that story must be urban legend.

In order to make one's voice higher with helium (or hydrogen) one must inhale it, not drink it. Helium (Hydrogen) in your stomach would not affect your voice.

And though Hydrogen may be more enironmentally friendly than CO2, I seriously doubt that it would be considred safe enough to include such quantities in consumer products.

While it is true enough that H/He in your stomach does not have the desired effect it is by no means clear that the Hydrogen in Hydrogen beer would all end up in the stomach. Perhaps it would escape from the beer during consumption and invade the lungs. And perhaps not.

The story does have the delicate aroma of urban legend. So?

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From: Tom
Date: 6/8/99
Subj: ex marine

i enjoyed reading your stories.i am also a former marine.i have a problem with something that you keep referring to,and that is ex.marine. there is no such thing as a ex marine there are only former marines.thank you for taking time out of your life to make places for us to get back together....SEMPER FI

Good point. It's sort of like being an alcoholic. You never stop being an alcoholic - you just stop drinking.
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From: Mccoy Family
Date: 6/19/99
Subj: Great Jokes!

Great jokes! I send pages to friends and family all the time. Nice photo of your garden. Keep the jokes coming!

Thanks. My collection of jokes is sort of a compendium of the ones I like best among the various humor lists that I get plus odds and ends of juicy things I run across.
Oh yeah, don't be too critical of Christians. I happen to be one and not all of us believe in ignorance. I teach science, including evolution and I feel that the bible has a more important purpose than to give us an account of the Earth's history or be involved in human endeovers like science. We do not use the bible to guide our Art, Math or any thing else--why should it be used for science?
I try not to be critical of Christians and Christianity as such, although I do get in a few barbs now and then. Creationism is another matter. One can't fault the average person who accepts creationism as being true - it is what they were taught.
I take more of an application approach to my use of the bible. I figure out what the underlying meaning is and the purpose for each passage. I use it as source for spiritual growth. The only things I take literally are miracles, geneology and major periods in human history. Some of the most wonderful literature can be misused in the twisted minds of some. (Even hate groups and destructive cults claim to be Christians). Like wise, the one thing science cannot do is explain away the existance of God. Science as a human endeover deals with observed and predicted information only.
Even so. A difficulty is that the level of achieved understanding of science in the American populace is abyssmal. The talking heads explain why this is so; alas, they have many different explanations which don't seem to agree with each other.
Besides, I enjoy reading the Darwin awards.

I did not intend for this to be a forum for Science versus The Bible--I really wrote to tell you how much I enjoy your web site. Thanks for not having alot of gross jokes. Most of all of them, I can share without blushing.

Audra

I try to maintain a modest level of taste in my collection. Many of the stories have a sexual punch line but there aren't many that are overtly gross. I don't need them; I am not twelve years old.
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From: Janice Smithhart
Date: 6/6/99
Subj: Best excuse yet !

Having worked in the restaurant business for years, I find I should start documenting all of the goofy things that I encounter. One of my favorite episodes was when a cook called in sick. His excuse was: He could not come to work because he and his wife had a terrible argument in which she was so pissed off that she ran off with his artificial leg. He lived on the second story apartment and his crutches were in the car with her and the artificial leg. Consequently, he obviously could not work. This was a legitimate excuse, a true story, and the best "I cant come to work" excuse I have heard yet.

Chortle. Thanks for the story.
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From: Al Harrison
Date: 6/7/99
Subj:
The man who thought he was stupid

Still entranced by your web-page. Still procrastinating.

It's a good site for the dedicated procrastinator.
Your work need not be fiction, if it ever comes to anything.
The "essay" is an "act of fiction" - the "I will write something else" is a reference to the work itself. Or it may not be an act of fiction; I've never quite decided what it is.
I can offer two case studies, one a student and one a professor at my university.
Would they be "men who think they are stupid" or merely the more common "men who don't realize they are stupid"?
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From: Al Harrison (aharriso@coe.neu.edu)
Date: 6/7/99
Subj:
Norman Childers
(Nathan Childers, please.)

Fascinating.

You've got more than a minor talent for literary conceits.

Indeed. Some say I have a miner talent, a worthless pun that I dug deep for.
Any chance you'll carry through on any of those paradoxic projects?
Actually, I do carry some of them out from time to time. It is by no means clear that this is a good thing. My works tend to form a connected structure rather like a low density foam.

If we grant that some of the conceits are of the highest literary quality (a position that may not be remotely defensible) still we must deal with their dependence on conceits that clearly are not. The review of "The Many Lives of Nathan Childers" alludes to the problem:

This book is, or may be, the definitive biography of that remarkable man of letters, Nathan Childers. Childers is a man of essential contradictions both in his literary and his personal life. It is quite inexplicable that the same man could have written The Gods Hate Nebraska, one of the worst pieces of SF hackwork ever written, and The Beekeeper's Daughter, easily one of the finest and most sensitive novels of this century. It passes comprehension that the same poet could have written the transcendently moving pastoral poetry that appears in The Brookings, South Dakota Sheepherders Gazette and the utterly pedestrian Proletarian Fairy Tales.
The review is the merest mendacity, of course, but the problem is real; I have created a literary structure that is interconnected in an essentially inconsistent manner. Since the inconsistencies are not resolvable I am only left with the option of further exploring the foam.

In answer to your question: Projects alluded to are not created as such; if they are created they aren't the projects that were alluded to.

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From: Luke Cool Hand LukCoolHnd@aol.com)
Date: 6/8/99
Subj: Request for Information

I read in the past a letter that was e-mailed around which was (in short) a letter from a gentleman with far too much time on his hands, who would mail archeological relics dug from his backyard to a prestigious university. He would actually take the time to detail what each relic was, and his estimation of its age. The university would then respond by pointing out for example that the latest artifact was not a triceratops knee cap, but a Malibu Barbie head circa 1995. It was hysterical, and I cannot seem to find it anywhere. If you ever run across it, please let me know.

Regards, and I love the website...

I have a version of it on my website. Take a look at http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1996/conrad.html

Glad you like the site.

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From: todd cruikshank
Date: 6/8/99
Subj: hello

How are you? i have look ed through your page for about the last fourty-two minutes, and I would like to say nice job. I am fifteen years old (hopefully my age won't demean the value of the compliment) Other than writing to give gratifacation on a great home page I have a couple of preguntas ( sorry, questions)

All compliments are gratefully accepted.
1. Are children born Prodical, and or is it developed by hard work, persperation and persistance, or is their genius always there.
Mostly it is a matter of the genius being there to begin with although training can make a big difference. Chess, Music, and Mathematics are the arenas where prodigies are mostly commonly seen. It seems to have something to do with the ability to recognize abstract patterns.
2. Do autistic savants use a higher percentage of their brain the non-autistic savants or do the just use a different part of their brain.
You may be mixed up about autism. Autism is a failure in mental development that mostly has to do with understanding how people behave. (There are a variety of symptoms.) In compensation many autistic people develop speciallized talents, e.g., the "idiot savant" syndrome.
... continued on next rock ...

Thank you very much for taking time out of your life to write me back, Throughout my short but hectic life I have always been fascinated with autism, genius, and abnormalities in the mind ( the fascination was surely sparked by movies and television ,serching for bobby fisher, little man tate, rain man, and many others. I learn a little more everyday. Just to give you a mind set of where i'm coming from with those questions.

If it's ok with you I have one more quick question. Is genuis in children always seen and expressed early in the childs life or can it be awoken later on in there lives?

It varies a great deal both with person and with area. When you speak of genius you should remember that the term is used in more than one sense. One sense is that of high IQ - the ability to achieve a very high score on IQ tests. This basically is a test of quickness of thought. The other is a capacity for outstanding achievement in some area of the arts and sciences.

Great mathematicians and chess players tend to be young and evidence talent early; few, however, are outright prodigies although some are. Writers and painters may start writing and painting at any time in their life. Some children show little sign of later adult genius; others do. There is no firm consistent rule.

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From: Geoffrey A. Landis
Date: 6/2/99
Subj: your web page

I ran into your "essays" web page via a link from Eric Max Francis -- the link to your essay on the Fermi paradox happened to be sitting right next to the link to mine.

Thanks for the reference. He has a very useful page there.

I very much enjoyed reading your essay. As a followup thought, it occurs to me that technologically advanced species would be very good at identifying suitable planetary systems from a distance. In turn, said systems might be fairly rare. If our aliens only travel to "good" systems then that suggests to me that the percolation coefficient is well below the critical value.

Say, cool set of essays. One minor suggestion, it took me two sets of screens before I could figure out who the author of the essay was! You might add your name to the page on essays, and to the essay alien.html itself.
That's a good suggestion. When I set up the site originally I sort of assumed that people would be coming through the front door, so to speak, i.e., that would start with the home page. It hasn't worked that way particularly. One of the consequences of having so much clutter is that people link to miscellaneous pages.
By the way, have you read Brin's essay about the Fermi Paradox?
Is that the one with the speculation that most habitable worlds are water worlds? In that regard I recall reading an article in Scientific American which reconstructed the amount of above water land area over the history of the Earth. According to the article the land area has been steadily increasing over the eons.

... continued on next rock ...

[re aliens only travelling to "good" systems]

True. Of course, if they don't travel only to "good" systems, then the colonies on the not-good systems will likely fail, and the percolation coefficient will be low, too!

It will be useful when we get some good data on Earth-sized planets around other stars... then we'll know a lot more about possible targets!

That is where the difficulty lies; we neither know what constitutes a target system nor how many of them their are.

One thing that occurs to me is that science fiction writers rather blithely assume that habitats in space and/or unterraformed worlds are fairly easy to build and that their economics are not prohibitive. If this is true then the suite of target systems expands a great deal. It may not be true, though. That is, it may not be practical to be build habitats to be occupied indefinitely that are not part of an already existing planetary ecosystem.

The flip side of the equation (and I don't think I've ever seen this) is that worlds like Earth are particularly unsuitable for colonization because they already have life present. It may be almost impossible for an alien ecology to invade the terrestrial ecology. The difficult is not with the plants and animals - it is with the bacteria. They eat everything and are everywhere. Alien life forms would be dinner on the hoof without evolved defenses.

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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 6/4/99
Subj:
Chesterton

TG writes

...it is your idea of Faerie that smells a bit too much like Christianity. Christ is too big to put in a box.
One of the problems of many of the professed Christians I run into is their refusal to see both the box "Christ" fits into ("resurrected hero", see Tammuz, Osiris, ..., all the way down to WILLOW) and the extent to which Christianity is a hashup of other religions, both institutionalized and "primitive" (e.g., Faerie-related). Easter is connected to Passover, which appears to have been overlaid on an older Spring festival; Christmas was a takeover of Saturnalia(*); All Saints Day was an attempt to supersede Samhain (and there are saints' days or other festivals for the remaining quarter and cross-quarter days); etc.
IIANM the early church fathers accounted for this by saying that Satan planted various false religions as precursors, the object being to confuse the faithful. Some people find this argument convincing. Your mileage may vary.

Be that as it may you can argue the matter the other way around, i.e., other images and myths are shadows and echoes of the Truth, rather like multiple realities in Zelazney's Amber Chronicles. I think that is very much the way that C. S. Lewis saw it. You may have to stand on your head quite a bit but I think it can be done.

It may be that it has to be done if one is going to remain a believer. It is one thing to take the view that other religions and myths are distorted copies of the truth and quite another to take the view that they were simply invented. The latter, skeptical viewpoint all too quickly leads to the question that must not be asked: Why is Christianity (or any other religion of your choice) not also a merely human invention?

My personal take is that Christianity succeeded by taking over both Rome and the Roman habit of absorbing local religions -- cf their telling surprised west-of-England tribes that Sulis was simply an aspect of Minerva, whom they were encouraged to worship while Bathing....
There is more to it than that; the key is that Christianity *could* take over Rome because it was a universal religion, i.e., one that was not restricted to a particular people. The entire idea of a universal religion was a major cultural invention.
(*) I have read that the only time-of-year indication of "Christ"'s birth puts it in February rather than midwinter; the statement that shepherds were watching their flocks by night suggests lambing season.
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From: Chip Hitchcock
Date: 6/4/99
Subj:
Rules guys wished girls knew

wrt #25: my wife is fond of quoting a certain biology exam, on which the professor asked for a reasoned explanation of why a woman is born with all the (few hundred) potential eggs she'll ever have while a man can produce millions of sperm a day. The prize answer? "They won't ask for directions either."

Snicker.
(I don't think you have this on your page yet -- if so put it down to advancing senility. Yes, I've started seeing gray on top....)
It appears in my June correspondence page.

What I want to know is whether that gray that you see is the color of your hair or if it is dandruff.

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From: James Hill
Date: 6/4/99
Subj:
Dinosaurs

I like dinosaurs too. Strange for a chemist, but I'm a strange chemist.

I am bothered by the fact that a lot of paleontologists are NOT biologists (well, they're not educated in structure and form). There is the old statement that "form follows function". NOW- compare T.Rex to an owl. One is a predator and one is not. TR is really a scavenger. He jsut does NOT have binocular vision, he can't triangulate to locate his food. His eyes are more place like a chicken's eyes- out on side to see predators and just enough forward to see his food.

Ah, the great T-Rex controversy. This is a lively one - paleontologists have argued it back and forth with great vehemence. I'm not certain about the binocular vision bit - I've seen it argued that TRex did have binocular vision. This may be a matter of who is doing the reconstruction. Then again, I am not up on the latest reconstruction.

In any case the argument is suspect in this case. Prey species (e.g. your chicken) have eyes to the side in order that they may have the greatest peripheral vision so that they can spot predators. Regardless of whether TRex was a hunter or a scavenger, she definitely wasn't prey.

It is unclear whether TRex would have needed binocular vision - that depends on the hunting mode and the prey.

Now, there ARE some great preditors in the dinos. They are the ones that DO have eyes that face forward and they can triangulate to locate their food.
Oh yes. The raptors, for example, are nasty little killing machines.
I found this out in a course on dinos in Grand Junction, CO. I also found out that experts don't know what they're talking about. If he sez "I am an expert so believe me.", fergit it! Now.... I'm no expert on them.... so you CAN believe me.
Would that course have been taught by Horner? IIRC he is one of the more dogmatic "TRex was a scavenger" advocates. Bakker, OTOH, is very much a "TRex was a savage killer" man.
I hope you haven't fallen for this sounds-good explanation for TR. And what if he DOES catch a victim- what can he do with it? That big mouth can catch it but he is so top heavy and only bipedal, he can't handle the victim.
Um, you should excuse the expression, but that dinosaur won't hunt.
Here is a good one for you.... if a hen-and-a-half could lay an egg-and-a-half in a day-and-a-half, how many eggs could two hens lay in three days?
Two. After they each lay an egg we serve them up for Sunday dinner.
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From: Angie
Date: 6/4/99
Subj: poetry

Just took a wonderful chuckling cruise through your commentary and poetry. I think I also just took a journey through the all the human emotions there are, simply by sitting here in front of my glowing screen reading your sometimes frosted, sometimes honeyed words.
Thank you.

Thank you for your kind words. I am unnerved, though, by "sometimes frosted, sometimes honeyed". It sounds a bit much like boxes of cereal. Could it be that I am the Count Chocula of verse?
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From: Sean
Date: 6/1/99
Subj: Creationism

Interesting argument.

Thank you. I'm not sure which page you are referring to, though.
I have but a few questions.
I will answer them this once but I shall warn you that I don't conduct email debates on creationism etc. There are public venues for such debates.
1.Why do evolutionists and creationists have to be so damn literal about the first seven days. Could it be that a day equals a billion years or some other span.
You should keep in mind that there are a multiplicity of views. There are two poles: On one hand there is the reconstruction of the history of the universe, life, and everything as detrmined by science. This reconstruction says little as such about religions. On the other hand there are the biblical literalists who insist that Genesis should be treated as literal history.

There is much to be said for the latter view; after all, could the author of the universe be so mistaken in his account of how he did things? If one views Genesis as a collection of "just so" stories, myths and parables rather than revealed truth then what is to say that the rest of the Bible isn't also a collection of myths.

There is a problem, however. Genesis is not an accurate account of the origins. It is a collection of tales that are, taken literally, false. There was no Noachian flood, no Garden of Eden, no Adam and Eve, et cetera. This is quite clear.

The literalists, the Young Earth creationists, don't wish to accept this. They are, in the view of many, dangerous because they, of necessity, promote an agenda of falsehoods and ignorance.

There are various ways in which Christians attempt to reconcile Science and the Bible, the most common being to treat Genesis as outright myth. A second approach, which you hint at, is to reinterpret various words, e.g., "days" as being indefinite periods of time. This doesn't work all that well - the sequence of events in Genesis doesn't match the history of the universe very well, even granting an elastic calendar.

More than that, there are problems with theology, particular with souls and with original sin. Did Homo erectus have a soul? Homo habilis? I suppose the Catholic Church has done as well as anyone can in resolving these problems.

I mention all of this only to point out that the issues are not as simple as you appear to suggest.

2.Why is it that those who lack faith in a God have to attack the beliefs of others to validate their own existance. After all, isn't that their ownly fault.
Here you make all kinds of assumptions and characterizations that are illegitimate. Many people "who lack faith in a God" don't attack and certainly don't "have to attack" the beliefs of others. Those who do attack belief in God, and there are many, do it for many reasons - validating their own existence is perhaps the least common reason for doing so. One of the common reasons for attacking the beliefs of believers is that many believers are quite obnoxious in their belief. Tit for tat and all that, you know.
3.Since this also tends to be a religion issue, allow me this divergence. Abortion, why is it that a baby born that survives is a baby but a baby still inutero is just a fetus to be aborted. Well then if its not a baby, you must not be pregnant, What are they worried about? Baby's survive younger and younger. They routinely survive at 26 weeks gestation. Yet that is still technically the second trimester, abortions are performed into the third trimester. Is that right?
Perhaps I am cynical but I seriously doubt that you are interested in that "why". I am not interested in serving as a whetstone for grinding that particular axe. In answer to your question, however, I would guess that people reflexively distinguish between the invisible and the visible. The fetus, being invisible and not a distinct observable object, is distinguished from the baby, which is visible and is a distinct observable object. That seems to be the basis for people's reactions. The rationality thereof is not my department.

... continued on next rock ...

I agree that their are forums for discussion besides on Internet email. I have tried to quickly pose these questions and will also respond quickly to your response, as I don't want to occupy too much of your time. I only wish to give my point of view and understand yours.

I'm going to violate my own rules and answer you at length.
Your analysis of the whole creationism Vs evolutionism still seems to be based on the assumption that Science has explained anything and everything in the physical world around us. There is no longer any doubt according to you as to the many questions of life. Where did we come from? Do we have souls? Scientifically Speaking No. There is no proof.
The operative terms here are "evolutionism" and "seems to be". It is legitimate (barely) to speak of evolutionism, in the sense of a philosophical and religious perspective distinct from science itself and it is fair to say that there are camp followers of science who treat evolution almost as though it were a religion. Be that as it may I wasn't doing an analysis of creationism vs evolutionism.

The "seems to be" should be "seems to be to you". I in nowise said that Science "has explained anything everything". I in nowise said that "there is no longer any doubt". You supplied these notions and attributed them to me.

A friend told me of an experiment where they took various basic early elements, carbon, hydrogen, and a few others I cannot remember. Ran electricity simulating lightning and found that they had created not only different elements, but also basic simple amino acids. The building blocks of life. Sure, explains us a few billion years later.
This sounds like a reference to the Muller experiments of the 50's. As a note this does not explain either the origin of life (which is very much an open question) nor the evolution of human beings.
I must ask though, where did all the matter come from for the Big Bang in the first place? What was it before? Why was it just hanging out or was it just hanging out? Why did it Bang? Why didn't it just stay like it was? Objects tend to continue doing what ever they are doing I believe is a principle of Newtons.
You're a little confused about Newton.
If we are all just part of the galactic yo-yo, Big Band, galactic expansion, then contraction sometime in the future, then what Big Bang again? To me it just doesn't explain the beginning of the universe. It is all just conjecture with many within the Scientific community arguing with each other who is right. To me there is no right answer. No matter which you believe, there is always an 'expert' somewhere who will disagree.
It is true enough that the origin of the universe and its future history is very much a matter of informed speculation (and I do insist on that word "informed" - there is a real difference between informed speculation and uninformed hand waving). So? Not everything is known.

By the way, it is pretty much the consensus among the cosmologists that the universe is not going to expand and then contract. This consensus may change in the future - we are quite a ways from having sufficient information to answer these questions definitely. Currently, however, the consensus is that the universe will expand indefinitely.

Which bring me to your second response. Given the varying theories on evolution. Granted they have become more in line with the Big Bang Theory. There is still dissent within the Scientific community as to a final conclusive end all and be all theory that explains everything. Granted with all the varying religions, I don't need to explain the diversity there. How can someone attack the beliefs of others as being 'Wrong' when there is so much that Science cannot explain? Miracles occur all the time. Many things can be explained but there is just so much that cannot. People are healed all the time. Be it their faith, be it God, be it a self fulfilling delusion, they are still healed. Things happen That Science cannot explain.
All of this is very confused. First of all there is a difference between biological evolution (which is the usual target of creationists) which is what is usually meant by "evolution" and more general senses of the word which refer to the change of something (e.g., stars, the Earth, a political system, the universe, whatever) over time. When you speak of "the varying theories on evolution" I have no way of knowing what you might be referring to. I will guess, though, that you are thinking rather generally of the reconstruction of the history of the universe and calling that evolution.

You go on to point out that there is no theory that explains everything. This is quite true. You then go on to make the fatal fallacious argument with:

How can someone attack the beliefs of others as being 'Wrong' when there is so much that Science cannot explain?
Very simply: It is not necessary to know everything and explain everything just to know some particular thing is wrong. If someone tells me that Ronald Reagan was one of the Roman emperors I can say that he is wrong without producing a detailed chronology of all the Roman emperors.

Much of Genesis is "wrong" in much the same way as saying "Ronald Reagan was a Roman Emperor" is wrong. It is blatantly wrong.

You go on to say that there are things that can't be explained, e.g. faith healing. This is all very true.

Now it happens that I don't accept the conventional explanations of the dominant religions for these "things that can't be explained". I don't claim, however, that science has shown that these explanations are false. I do believe that ordinary reason and common sense (which is quite uncommon as far as I can tell) suggest that the conventional explanations are, to put it bluntly, hogwash. That is a different matter, though, and quite a bit beyond the scope of correspondence.

Don't get me wrong. There are still more than their share of Religious Zealots out there who need a good shot. To the same account there are many others who argue the same, some simply because they lack faith in a higher power.
I will agree that proselytizing atheists are a pain in the ass. However I will remind you that there are many more proselytizing Christians. There are oodles of evangelical preachers on the radio and television. For every Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins there are a dozen Pat Robertsons.
Just from my own point of view, my father is a Religious Zealot. I disagree with many things he believes. Look around you though. As the world spins more and more out of control. Why are our children killing each other more and more frequently? There are Demons among us, Possession is a real thing. Not like the exorcist. But they do exist.
There is an ancient argument that people need religion in order to be good or at least for to behave well enough for the maintenance of public order. The pagan emperors of Rome enforced their state religion for just that reason. The proposition may be true. Mind you, the religion doesn't have to be true; people just have to believe that it is true and that it tells them what is right and what is wrong.

It is hard to know, though. Human beings seem to have a great urge to believe in and practice some kind of religion. Even atheists invent equivalents to religion.

A problem with the "we need religion for the common good" argument is that the cynicism implicit in the argument corrodes the belief required by religion.

Be that as it may, I wouldn't put too much stock in "our children killing each other more and more frequently" as evidence. You're drifting into the area of manipulated perception.

Sorry this was so long. It was just my thought.
No problem. It makes for an interesting discussion.
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This page was last updated June 20, 1999.
It was reformatted and moved December 16, 2004.

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